San Francisco

Victor Moscoso

1458 Broadway

The subject matter is strange, capricious, arbitrary, but the content is of one cloth—a vision so intense, compelling, and individual that one wonders why this young artist must be hanging his exhibitions in his studio. He is probably the best figurative painter on the West Coast today.

The little show has some rare gems: a complicated, disturbing arrangement of heads, masks and hands called Two Conspirators with Banjo, a series of “Biblical Scenes” that show a violent disregard for color, and a small painting called Fifty Grand, titled, evidently, after the Hemingway story, a blurred image of a head battered beyond the limits of human endurance. (A beautiful lithograph bearing the same title, rests the head against the edge of the picture box in total exhaustion.)

The vision that Moscoso pursues derives from three disparate sources: Giotto, Velasquez, and Ensor. Totally missing is any evidence of the training he had undergone with Josef Albers and Rico Lebrun, though the prints are expressive of his debt to, and his friendship with, Nathan Oliveira, and totally missing is any genuine involvement with the concerns of the California figurative style. Because there is no body of subject matter on which he can draw (the real problem of all representational painting today) each canvas asks, “What shall I paint?” Because none of the stylistic influences he has experienced seem to him substantial, each canvas asks, “How shall I paint it?” In the wild exasperation to which the constant confrontation of these questions gives rise lies the key to much of the intensity of these paintings.

Philip Leider